A Life In Blood – Tales of A Horror Queen by Genoveva Rossi #6 – Apocalypse Kiss Exclusive!
Apocalypse Kiss was just re-released and it now available online on Amazon Prime so I thought it would be a great time to talk about the film, interview the star D.C. Douglas and director Christian Jude Grillo. Apocalypse Kiss is a different kind of film for me; it encompasses the sci-fi, suspense and horror genres.
It was not only a chance for me to play a part completely different that anything I had done before, but it was also a chance to be in a film with such talents as Michael Berryman (The Hills Have Eyes), Tom Atkins (Lethal Weapon), and D. C. Douglas (Resident Evil). I play Clara, a very pregnant hippie working at a café the main characters have some important scenes at. It was a challenging role that included me giving birth on film.
I remember walking onto the set and seeing D. C. Douglas for the first time. I have to admit he looked rather striking as his serial killer character Adrian. For the role, Douglas has his hair dyed a gorgeous shade of blonde and he was bronzed with a luminous fake tan over his whole body. On set, I decided to go over and introduce myself to Douglas. At first, he thought we had already met because I looked so familiar to him. Then it hit him, he had seen me before! He’d seen the footage of my birth scene. He told me that I did a great job and that “no one gives birth like you Genoveva.” I was very flattered that such an accomplished actor was impressed by my work.
It was such an fantastic experience working with the entire cast and crew of this film. Christian Jude Grillo is a great director. His wife Carmela Hayslett Grillo and Tammy Jean were wonderful as the lesbian murderers that add a lot of spice to the film. Their scenes are very edgy, and disturbing.
“It was one of the best experiences I ever had working on a film. Everyone on the cast and crew were so in sync with each other. We all supported each other and helped each other. We were like one, big, creative, happy family,” recalled Carmela Hayslett Grillo.
“Well, it was cold! lol I swear it was colder inside than outside. But those are the sacrifices you make on a small budget film. We had heaters but they made so much noise you couldn’t use them when you were filming. I remember the coldest night was the sex scene with Plex and it was daylight savings time so by the time we left that night it was like 4 am. And everyone kept asking me between takes if I was OK, and I just kept saying, I’m fine, just keep shooting. But you couldn’t have picked a better set to fit the movie. That old mill was perfect and they completed transformed parts of the inside at times for different scenes. I was flattered Christian took a chance on me because it was my first major speaking role. It definitely will always be remembered as the kick off acting wise for any roles to come for me in the future,” remembers Tammy Jean.
An Interview with D.C. Douglas
Genoveva – How did you come to get involved in the film Apocalypse Kiss?
D.C.: I got an offer to be in it via my agent. Out of the blue! Turned out it was due to Carmela Hayslett who was a fan of my work as a voice over actor in the “Resident Evil” franchise. I voice the villain Albert Wesker. They offered me the choice of two roles and I opted for the delicious role of Adrian.
Genoveva – This was a really unique role for you and you give a powerful performance. A serial killer with OCD and you do have a sexy scene or two in the film. You looked fabulous as Adrian. Tell us a bit about how you prepared for the role?
D.C.: Well shucks! Thank you. Well, knowing my butt would be seen on camera I immediatly set up a training schedule in the gym and got my middle-aged body into something film-able over the 6 months prior. Closer to the production dates I mentioned to the director that since the film is futuristic and the only reason I’m in it is because they loved me as Albert Wesker – why not have me blonde like him? They were stoked so I went VERY blonde and tanned up, as well. I was going to change my eye color but one of the contacts didn’t fit right so I said, “cool! He’s like David Bowie, but he hates his ugly brown eye!”
The director, Christian Grillo, was very cool to work with and gave me freedom with my dialogue (I had a lot of long lines, etc) so I was able to explore Adrian’s quirks and desires even deeper. And having the couple months with the final script helped out a lot. Very different than my TV gigs and especially voice overs.
Genoveva – What were some highlights of working on the film?
D.C.: Having the costumer from the film “Tommy” dress me?! That was cool. To be honest, I loved every bit of it. The whole crew and cast were great to hang with and Christian’s ingenuity with camera and sets is astounding. And so damn smart. They rented an abandoned mill and converted it into a multi-level film studio!
Genoveva – I was recently on a date with a Resident Evil fan and he was a big fan of yours. Can you tell us a bit about your amazing career? Perhaps some of the things you are most proud of.
D.C.: You’re very kind, but I think of my career as your average unknown actor career in LA! Aside from AK, I really am excited to see “Isle of the Dead” on SyFy later this year. I play the main antagonist in this and had a blast being rather neurotic and dangerous. I also am very proud of my film short, “The Crooked Eye,” which is narrated by Academy Award winner Linda Hunt. You can find it on iTunes. TV wise there’s Boston Common – a sitcom in the 90’s where I played “DC” in 11 episodes. In voice over, I always have to tip my hat to “Resident Evil” and “Mass Effect” since they brought me so many fans. And, of course, my first and only series regular role as Chase on “Transformers: Rescue Bots!”
Tammy Jean and Carmela Hayslett Grillo
Genoveva – Also let us know what to look for you in and how to follow you. What are some of your current projects and where are you appearing?
D.C. I mentioned “Isle of the Dead” with Joey Lawrence, Maryse MIzanin and myself. I have a small disturbing cameo in “Smartass” with Joey King. I can also be seen in the recently released “KILD TV” as Milton/Dr Preseco. That’s a fun one for horror fans. You find out more about upcoming projects at www.dcdouglas.com, on twitter @DC_Douglas and on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/mrdcdouglas
An Interview With Director Christian Jude Grillo
Genoveva – Why is your background in filmmaking? How did you get started?
Christian: I started with a background in music. When not in a band, the music that I composed in the earliest days of computer recording sounded most like soundtracks to a film. I always loved the way that music played an integral part of telling a story. Wanting to do a film score wasn’t enough. I needed a film to score. So I wrote and produced my first feature film “Belial”. This was the beginning of my film career.
Genoveva – Can you tell us about about how the original idea for the script was born? What was your creative process?
Christian: We had finished Deer Crossing, our film with Doug Bradley and Ernie Hudson. As happy as I was with this movie, I felt that I hadn’t reached for the stars yet (mind the pun) and I felt that as a director/writer I was ready to go big or stop trying. My favorite genre has always been Sci-Fi, but “dark” Sci-Fi. I have always been utterly impressed by Richard Stanley’s film HARDWARE. This was a low budget concept that honestly is amazing visually and creates a distopian world with small sets and a perfect soundtrack. It’s a metal head’s sci-fi. But doing another “Hardware” kind of film would not be enough at this point in time, I wanted the BIG PICTURE feel.
I wanted BLADE RUNNER. So I began to write a pre-apocalypse film with the heart of Hardware and the Look of a “poor man’s” Blade Runner. The only problem with was, there isn’t as much of an outlet for free press for indie Sci-Fi as there is for horror, so… I had to write in a horror element, that’s where the battling serial killers came into play. I have an odd way of writing… I come up with a name first and build the story from it. With a name like Apocalypse Kiss, the story had to be “end world”, “sexy” and and stylish.
Genoveva – One of the most striking things about this film is how visually stunning it is. Tell us a bit about the construction of sets, art direction, and wardrobe design.
Christian: Well, if I was gonna go big… I had to really give it everything I had. This means that using the world around me would not be enough. There had to be completely fabricated locations in this movie that set it apart from the normal everyday. The sets in Apocalypse Kiss are characters in themselves. In the entire film we constructed nine sets, two of these sets were over 40 feet long. Here’s the problem, we only had about three thousand dollars to build all of these sets. The majority of the sets were built out of cheap construction materials. I scheduled the shooting days so that we could tare down a set and use it’s pieces to construct new ones during production.
The art design was that of an aged world that lost it’s infrastructure. I wanted the sets of Apocalypse Kiss to feel used, rusted and held together like a flea market vending area. This look and design also works well when you have no money.
As far as the wardrobe goes, I felt that I can’t build a new world without creating the look and fashion of it’s people. I hired a local well known wardrobe designer Leonard Pollack to handle the fabrication of some of the special pieces like “The Wizard’s Robe”. Leonard was also responsible for wardrobe management on each shooting date based off of a wardrobe chart that I put together for him. One of the other notable things about Apocalypse Kiss is that every person in the movie was in a wardrobe that either I or Leonard put together. There were 35 extras and over 20 cast members in Apocalypse Kiss so that was no small task.
Genoveva – You assembled a truly amazing cast including: Michael Berryman, Tom Atkins and D. C. Douglas. What was the casting process like? Any fun stories you’d like to share from set?
Christian: Well as you can imagine we didn’t have a lot of budget for big names, but I wanted some recognizable faces in the film to help it sell. We decided in true Apocalypse Kiss fashion to go for many small genre names instead of a couple bigger names. The Name Genre cast was made up of D.C. Douglas (a video game voice over legend), Lloyd Kaufman (The godfather of indie film making and my personal hero), Michael Berryman (Horror Icon/Sci-Fi legend), Tom Atkins (Hollywood Cop), and Steven Blum (another great cartoon and video game name). I figured with this ensemble of genre players I had a better chance of spreading the word at conventions than any other in my league. As far as funny stories….Lloyd Kaufman came onto set shooting his own behind the scenes short film for Troma about the level of our low budget set building. You can see this at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WAzCqAwCEg4
Genoveva – What do you think makes Apocalypse Kiss unique in the world of indie film?
Christian: I like to believe that the story is unique, most people get distracted trying to judge the film against the likes of multi million dollar films like Blade Runner, Equilibrium, Star wars, and so on. I heard comparisons of all kinds. But the fact is, the world that we created in AK is the backdrop. The characters of Apocalypse Kiss and the story they tell are what I think are unique. Future killers with different agendas fighting for their own piece of a dying world and a broken cop caught in the middle. Tie in the fact that the entire budget of Apocalypse Kiss was $35,000 and that makes it the most unique movie on the planet. Show me a film made for that budget that’s as ambitious.
Genoveva – Where can film fans see Apocalypse Kiss?
Christian: Well with our New Distributor SGL Entertainment, Apocalypse Kiss is now available on AMAZON Prime. It will also be available for purchase on Blu-Ray and DVD this January.
Pregnant Genoveva with some of cast
Genoveva – Tell us a bit about your creative collaborations with your wife Carmela Hayslett-Grillo and the future of Potent Media.
Christian: Carmela and I have always taken on many different roles on each others projects. Sometimes we co-write, sometimes we co-direct. She plays different roles in my films that I direct and I shoot her short films and web series.
As far as what is coming in the future, I am beginning production of my first TV Series, LAW OF PERDITION that will be going direct to Amazon Prime through our distributor SGL Entertainment. Carmela is beginning production simultaneously on ROXSY’s HOUSE OF HORRORS, her new web series that is a docu-comedy in the style of Modern family and the office with the Horror/Comedy antics of the Roxsy Tyler team.